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US ISPs Hijacking Search Traffic without Consent

A group of internet researchers has claimed that some ISPs in the United States are re-routing search queries for their own personal gains.

According to a report released by researchers at the International Computer Science Institute and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, some ISPs are working with a company to redirect users to directly to the website instead of taking them to a search results page.

The ISPs named in the report include Cavalier, Cogent, Frontier, Fuse, DirecPC, RCN, and Wide Open West, which are working with a company called Paxfire which redirects the users.

For a long time now, ISPs have used mis-typed web addresses, which are not owned by a third party, to redirect users to a suggested search results page which contains a lot of ads.

However, what Paxfire is doing is that it is redirecting users who make searches from their address bar or search bar in the web browser directly to the website instead of a search results page.

"These proxies collect the users' web searches and the corresponding search results, mostly forwarding them to and from the intended search engines," the researchers said in the report.

"This allows Paxfire and/or the ISPs to directly monitor all searches made by the ISPs' customers and build up corresponding profiles, a process on which Paxfire holds a patent. It also puts Paxfire in a position to modify the underlying traffic if it decides to." the report added.